Application Delivery Gets a Modular Twist

SAN MATEO (05/01/2000) - Using principles similar to those behind content-delivery networks -- but applying them to application delivery -- AppStream is offering companies a way to get applications to users quickly and in a bandwidth-efficient manner.

AppStream Software Streaming, which is scheduled to launch this week and is targeted at ASPs (application service providers) as well as enterprises, breaks applications into smaller segments that can be compressed and streamed to users on demand. AppStream currently supports only Java applications, but a version for Windows applications is expected in June, officials said.

According to Uri Raz, CEO of AppStream Inc., AppStream servers also have a predictive element, in that they collect real-time usage data from end-users after distributing the applications. This data is used to create "typical-user profiles" and to deliver application pieces before a user needs them.

"Because we can expect, predict, and deliver the correct pieces a user will need, we do not choke bandwidth," Raz said. "Based on previous trends from other users ... we shorten downloads by only delivering relevant application pieces."

Making application delivery more efficient is vital to an ASP's success, said Philip Mendoza, a client management software analyst at IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

"AppStream is saying, 'The typical user doesn't need the whole application, they just need 20 percent of the functions that will provide 80 percent of the functionality,' " Mendoza explained. "[AppStream is] designed to do application streaming, whereas other companies have to backward engineer their software-delivery solutions for ASPs."

AppStream will also offer a Virtual Hosting Network service to host applications and deliver them to users via AppStream servers deployed at the edge of the network and on the Internet backbone, said Neal Fink, AppStream's vice president of marketing. The first part of the network is expected to go live late this fall.

The addition of this server network separates AppStream's delivery model from other application-delivery companies, such as Marimba, Epicon, and SoftwareWow.com, Mendoza said.

Scott McPherson, CEO of Palo Alto, California-based MochaMail.com, a Web-based e-mail software company that uses Java in its mail client, said that MochaMail download times via a 56Kbps modem drop from 90 seconds to 5 or 10 seconds with AppStream.

"I remember projects like Corel Office for Java that really ran up against a brick wall, and a lot of it had to do with downloading [programs] to run on your computer," McPherson added. "There was this huge trade-off: If I add a feature, they have to wait; and if I streamline it so they don't have to wait, I've eliminated a feature. AppStream is something that really solves the problem that kept the marketplace from really adopting Java on the client in the first place."

AppStream Inc., in Palo Alto, Calif., is at www.appstream.com.

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